Jul 25, 2024  
2017-2018 Academic Catalog 
2017-2018 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Difference at Wartburg

An intentional focus on the integrative programs of leadership, multicultural and diversely education, undergraduate research, and campus-community service learning adds value to a Wartburg education. The college encourages students to integrate their classroom learning with opportunities to enhance their leadership skills, immerse themselves in global or domestic settings, practice the research process, or engage in community service projects.

The six distinctive characteristics of a Wartburg education are:

  • A dedication to the liberal arts and a concern for usefulness and careers.
  • A rigorous academic program and an emphasis on “living your learning”.
  • A commitment to leadership and a tradition of service to others.
  • A spirit of inquiry and exploration and a foundation of faith and values.
  • A vigorous global outreach and strong Midwestern roots.
  • A focus on the future and an appreciation for history and heritage.

A Learning Community

Wartburg College is a learning community built upon an integrative curriculum, a rich variety of learning-focused co-curricular activities, and intentional opportunities for reflection and discussion. Wartburg is committed to educating the whole person by helping students to develop their intellectual talents, to explore their personal, professional, and social convictions, and to engage as active participants in community. A Wartburg education challenges and nurtures students to:

1. Develop intellectual skills that are essential to all academic disciplines, foster interdisciplinary and integrative thinking, and provide depth of study within an academic major. Such skills include …

  • Reading, thinking, and inquiring in a critical fashion (using analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application).
  • Communicating effectively in writing and speaking.
  • Using technology and information effectively.
  • Using and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data accurately.
  • Understanding the questions examined, methods of inquiry used, and approaches to problem solving across a range of academic disciplines.
  • Demonstrating command of the subject matter, methods, and applications of an academic major.

2. Develop personal, professional, and social convictions that inform ethical action, promote the common good, and enhance civic responsibility in local as well as global contexts. Such convictions include…

  • Practicing civil discourse and mutual respect in relationships with others.
  • Understanding the potential for both dynamic tension and harmony that may exist between the pursuit of personal benefit and the promotion of community well-being.
  • Accepting responsibility for their decisions and actions, and basing these on ethical considerations.
  • Promoting sustainable practices and informed stewardship of local and global resources.

3. Become actively engaged in multiple communities and seek opportunities for continued growth. Such engagement includes…

  • Supporting communities through active citizenship, leadership, mentoring, and service experiences.
  • Collaborating effectively with others in the multiple communities to which they belong.
  • Enhancing their competency to thrive in an inclusive and multicultural world.
  • Developing a sense of purpose and vocation.
  • Caring for and developing their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being.
  • Participating in learning as a lifelong pursuit of growth and development.

The Wartburg Readings in Common Program, an initiative of IS 101 , fosters a community of learners who inquire into the complex issues of contemporary life and are equipped to offer reflective and meaningful responses. This program introduces first-year students to the critical reading process at the college level while engaging the entire Wartburg community in a deep consideration of essential human issues. IS 101  program faculty and a group of upper-class students select a common reading text. The selection criteria consider each text’s literary quality as well as its compelling presentation of a range of rich questions about the human experience that inform both the integrative and interdisciplinary learning objectives of IS 101  and IS 201  as well as studies in the academic disciplines. Finally, each text is evaluated for its potential to evoke stimulating and critical dialogue among faculty, students, staff, alumni, members of the Board of Regents, and other friends of the Wartburg community. The Readings in Common Program more broadly includes faculty panel discussions of the common text, contextual lectures by scholarly experts, and representations of the text in other media such as film, art, or music.

The Wartburg curriculum consists of separate courses of instruction arranged into a cohesive whole to constitute the baccalaureate degree. The primary components of Wartburg’s liberal arts curriculum are the Wartburg Plan of Essential Education, the major, and carefully selected elective courses.

The Wartburg Plan of Essential Education

The Wartburg Plan of Essential Education involves required and elective courses in the liberal arts that together constitute approximately one-third of the course work for a bachelor’s degree. These courses include study in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. The Wartburg Plan encourages students to think critically and communicate effectively. Students discover the connections among academic disciplines and how issues and ideas go beyond the boundaries of a single area. This integrated approach is the essence of a Wartburg liberal arts education.

Academic Major, Minor, and Electives

A second third of the work is devoted to a major field of study. This prescribed group of courses offers depth of knowledge in a specific discipline. Students may choose from more than 50 departmental programs. Some students elect interdepartmental majors, which combine credits from up to three academic departments. Students interested in a specialized field of study may develop an individualized major, integrating courses from several academic departments. It is also possible to declare more than one major. In some majors, students may pursue a specialized concentration.

Students may elect to pursue a minor. The minor involves a concentration of course work in another discipline but requires fewer courses than a major. Minors often enhance students’ academic preparation or provide them with expanded career opportunities. Wartburg offers seven interdisciplinary minors: environmental studies, intercultural studies, leadership, peace and justice studies, social entrepreneurship, women’s studies, and worship studies. The final third of the academic program at Wartburg College consists of elective courses. Students choose these courses according to their interests and needs.

Living Your Learning

One of Wartburg’s strengths is providing opportunities for students to “live their learning.” Community-based experiences are incorporated into many classes, especially those offered during May Term. Through internships, field experiences, student teaching, and service-learning, students connect their academic studies to practical situations, develop new skills, and discover how they can make an impact on the world as professionals and citizens. Wartburg is committed to mutually beneficial community partnerships that assist students in exploring and living, through community interaction, lives of leadership and service as a spirited expression of their faith and learning.

Center for Community Engagement

At Wartburg, we recognize that the community is our partner and an essential component in providing our students with meaningful real life experiences that are an extension of their classroom learning. The Center for Community Engagement supports and encourages students, staff and faculty in the development, coordination and evaluation of external relationships that are effective for student learning and vocational development, advance public scholarship and benefit community partners.

Field Experiences

Field experiences allow students to explore their intended career path in any major at Wartburg College. Each field experience credit requires 140 hours at the site in addition to the curriculum assigned by the faculty sponsor. Examples of field experiences include education majors in an elementary or secondary classroom, social work majors observing a variety of social service agencies, or students interested in medicine or physical therapy spending time in a hospital setting. Field experiences are available to first- through fourth-year students.


Internships help students develop independence and leadership, link theory and practice, and offer opportunities for vocational exploration and discovery. While internships are valuable and often necessary preparation for entry into graduate school or the work force, academic internships at Wartburg also provide an opportunity to connect learning to life and to explore and understand the ways work can matter in the world.

Internships constitute a student’s entire course work in May Term and up to two credits during Fall, Winter, or Summer terms. Students may apply up to four internship course credits toward graduation, but no more than two credits may be taken at a single site. Each internship credit requires a minimum of 140 hours at the internship site in addition to curriculum assigned by the faculty sponsor. Some academic majors require internships; others offer them as electives. Interns must be classified as either third- or fourth-year students with a 2.0 cumulative GPA overall and in their major. Departments may specify additional prerequisites.

Leadership Education

Leadership Education at Wartburg is part of the curriculum as an academic minor under the administration of the Institute for Leadership Education, which is staffed by a director, assistant director, instructors with expertise in leadership education, and Fellows of the Institute who are members of the Wartburg faculty and staff.

The Institute for Leadership Education at Wartburg defines leadership as “taking responsibility for our communities and making them better through public action.” The college prepares students through academic courses and co-curricular activities to assume leadership in addressing community issues while they are enrolled and after they graduate.

The normative assumption underlying this definition is the belief that leadership education, properly conceived and executed, connects students to a defined community for purposes of achieving a common goal, and that this can contribute to their civic, social, and personal development, as well as to their cognitive development. All of these attributes are essential to a liberal arts education and vital to the private interests of the lifelong learner of the 21st century and to the public contribution she/he can make to the sustenance of a democratic society.

The Institute helps students meet these goals through components coordinated by a committee of faculty, administrators, and students:

  • Academic course work encourages students to employ the skills of critical inquiry as they study theories of leadership and test those theories through the execution of action plans identified by students to meet community needs

  • Leadership conferences, workshops, and assessment tools help students identify personal strengths and encourage ongoing improvement.

  • Mentoring gives students opportunities to serve as mentors to young people and to be the recipients of mentoring relationships with adult citizens who have taken responsibility for their communities.

  •  Outreach activities encourage students to serve communities in Waverly, Northeast Iowa, and around the world.

Recognition of a student’s commitment to leadership education occurs through the Leadership minor. The leadership minor provides formal opportunities and acknowledges effective efforts by Wartburg students to demonstrate and reflect critically upon the meaning of leadership in their lives as demonstrated through the completion of a personal portfolio. Students who complete the program requirements receive acknowledgment of this accomplishment on their college transcript.

Multicultural and Diversity Studies

The programs offered by Multicultural and Diversity Studies invite students to engage more fully with our increasingly interdependent world. Multicultural and Diversity Studies works in partnership with academic departments and advisors, helping students achieve the intercultural competence necessary to succeed in and contribute to our global community.

Minor in Intercultural Studies

Students can earn a minor in Intercultural Studies, an interdisciplinary program emphasizing awareness of cultures (one’s own as well as others) and the communication skills necessary to be effective in a global society. Requires course work, language proficiency, and designated cultural immersion experiences (see description elsewhere in catalog).

Study Abroad

Students can study abroad for a semester (in some cases an academic year) with an approved program. Opportunities are available in many countries where students can be immersed in a language or study in English. Internships are available in many locations around the world. Through Wartburg’s unique Diers Programs, students have the opportunity to work in community-based grassroots programs in Tanzania, Ghana, Australia, or China.

Modern Languages majors are required to study abroad for a May Term, then for a semester or year.

Application for Study Abroad is competitive. Deadline for application for the following academic year is Feb. 1. Information is available at www.wartburg.edu/study-abroad/.

May Term Courses

Wartburg’s four-week May Term is an ideal time for off-campus study. Faculty members lead students on a variety of courses, including language study in France, Germany, or Mexico; a study of Reformation sites in Europe; a class on the Maasai people in Tanzania; a course on the merging of ancient and modern elements in Japan; a class on rainforest ecology and cultures in Guyana; and many others listed in the catalog. All students who wish to enroll in a May Term course must submit an application and faculty recommendation. Application materials and additional May Term information are available at www.wartburg.edu/study-abroad/.

Concert Tours Abroad

The Wartburg Choir, Castle Singers, and Wind Ensemble schedule May Term concert tours abroad every three years. Students perform and earn academic credit by taking GM 223 Tour With the Arts .


Drawing upon multiple disciplines, service-learning projects foster listening, understanding, and action. Service-learning and other forms of community service help students develop habits and skills necessary for democratic citizenship and provide an opportunity to reflect on faith, cultures, social structures, and the meaning of justice. Service opportunities are embedded in courses, including May Term travel courses, and offered through service days, service-oriented student organizations, and service trips.

Wartburg’s service-learning programs have been nationally recognized. Since 2006, Wartburg has been listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll “with distinction.” In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching included Wartburg in its Curricular Engagement and Outreach classification, and Wartburg has been recognized by Break-Away, a consortium of colleges and universities, as the top program in the nation for the percentage of students participating in alternative break service trips.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research encourages students and faculty to work together to pose and answer meaningful questions, to explore creative and artistic interests, to contribute to new knowledge, and to add to the intellectual climate on campus. Students will further develop skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and communication through research projects in a variety of academic disciplines. Students are also encouraged to apply for grants to support research and present their findings at regional and national meetings. The Undergraduate Research Program is coordinated through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.

Wartburg Scholars Program

The Wartburg Scholars Program is dedicated to improving the intellectual life of the campus by providing academic challenges and learning opportunities to highly motivated and academically talented students wanting to optimize their college experience. High school students in the top ten percent of their graduating class, or having an ACT composite score of 26 or higher are invited to apply. There is also opportunity for transfer and current Wartburg students with a college GPA of at  least 3.5 may gain admittance to the program.

Thirty to forty first-year students are accepted into the program during the spring prior to their arrival on campus via a competitive application process. Acceptance into the program automatically enrolls students in the Scholars Seminar during their first term on campus. Students participating in the program have the opportunity to develop their own supplemental activities that highlight their interests through Honors contract courses and have opportunities for travel, seminars, book groups, and conference attendance. To successfully complete the program, students are required to propose, finish, and publicly defend a Scholars Senior research project or other creative endeavor, in addition to other course requirements.

Wartburg West

Wartburg West is an urban-studies program in Denver, Colorado. The one-term program includes an internship, a student teaching placement or a social work practicum, combined with academic course work that includes service-learning. Students take courses that fulfill Interdisciplinary and Faith and Reflection requirements of the Wartburg Plan of Essential Education. Internships are arranged in many fields, including business administration, church vocations, fitness management, communication arts, writing, history, and the health professions. May Term classes are offered by Wartburg faculty in a variety of disciplines who lead and teach the classes in Denver.

The traditional Wartburg West program is open to third- and fourth-year students who have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher overall and in their major. Students must apply and be accepted into the program.

Wartburg West Sophomore Program

The Wartburg West Sophomore program is offered Fall Term only for up to eight students. Students take three classes that meet requirements of the Wartburg Plan of Essential Education, participate in service-learning, and complete a field experience in their major. Students must have a 3.0 GPA overall and must apply and be accepted into the program.

Des Moines Urban Studies Program

The Des Moines Urban Studies program is a one-term experience in Des Moines, Iowa, that includes an internship, student teaching, or a social work practicum combined with academic coursework. Students fulfill coursework through an arranged study, online courses or via use of electronic resources such as SKYPE. Internships are completed in many majors and are arranged by the internship office at Wartburg. During the summer term, students complete an intership only. The Des Moines Urban Studies program is open to third- and fourth-year students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher overall.

Faith and Values

At Wartburg, students are encouraged “to discover and claim their callings.” A calling, in its deepest sense, refers to an ultimate purpose in life and to the values that will guide one’s life in the future. Through courses, mentoring relationships, and co-curricular activities, Wartburg students have the opportunity for critical reflection on their faith and values as well as the faith and values of others.

The task of learning can never be separated from how knowledge will be used, whom it will serve, and whether good or evil will result. While critical reflection on faith and values is welcome in all courses, specific courses within the curriculum have been designated as having a special emphasis on this integration. These include: IS 101 Asking Questions, Making Choices ; IS 201 Living in a Diverse World ; Faith and Reflection courses in the Wartburg Plan of Essential Education; and the capstone course in all academic majors. Through an annual convocation series, the college hosts thought-provoking speakers on topics of contemporary social interest. Within the co-curricular program, an active Campus Ministry program, the Volunteer Action Center, Students for Peace and Justice, a Habitat for Humanity chapter, and an Amnesty International chapter provide opportunities for critical reflection and action.

By heritage and mission, Wartburg is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Because of this identity and the recognition of God’s image within every human being, students of all faiths and philosophies are welcomed and invited to participate in a process of critical reflection on their most foundational commitments.


As part of Wartburg’s continuing efforts to maintain and strengthen the quality of its academic programs, the college is actively involved in the assessment of educational outcomes. This assessment program consists of three primary steps:

  1. Clearly stating the objectives or intended outcomes of curricula in general education and each academic major.
  2. Gathering evidence of the degree to which programs are helping students achieve these outcomes.
  3. Using this evidence to monitor and improve the quality of academic programs.

The focus of educational outcomes assessment is on evaluation and improving the effectiveness of academic programs. Various sections throughout this catalog list goals or objectives for Wartburg’s Essential Education program, as well as for the academic majors in each department. From time to time, students may be asked to take part in an assessment activity, such as completing a survey, participating in an interview, or taking a test. These activities may take place within a department or as part of a college-wide effort. Faculty members may ask students to help interpret the evidence gathered in these assessments and to suggest program changes or improvements. Student involvement in these activities is important to the college and will not affect academic standing in any way. Assessment helps Wartburg determine how its academic programs are working and stimulates change for the better.